Warning: Do Not Get Ripped Off Purchasing Federal Forms

A paralegal working for a bankruptcy attorney in Pennsylvania called today to tell me about her experience with Best Case software.  Her attorney is a registered user of Best Case and the paralegal had called them because they had to upgrade their license from a Chapter 7 to a Chapter 7 and 13.

While the paralegal was on the phone with Best Case, she asked the sales person about preparing petitions for attorneys outside of her area.  The sales lady told the paralegal that she could NOT prepare Chapter 13s for any other district except the district the attorney was in.  Even if she prepared a bankruptcy petition that was not in the same district but within the state of Pennsylvania she would have to pay another $150 to $200 for the Chapter 13 Plan.

The paralegal called me because she felt something was wrong and that Best Case had misrepresented the federal forms.  She asked me how Best Case could do this; so I explained to her the scam some bankruptcy software companies are using to sell federal forms.  Of course this scam is one of those legitimate scams.  In case you did not know, a legitimate scam is one where the customer is still ripped off, but the thief operates the scam legitimately.  Best Case is using this age old scam and eventually it will harm them; but who am I to judge?

What is the Scam?

First, you need to be aware that every federal form pertaining to bankruptcy is provided free by the government because consumers have the right to represent themselves. (This is why the first form in a bankruptcy petition is called a Voluntary Petition; the petition is filed by the debtor voluntarily).

Back to the subject, you should never be required to pay for a federal form.  The bankruptcy software companies like Best Case know this; so they sell the federal forms under the disguise that their forms work with their software.  Big deal!  But they will make you think their forms are the best thing since sliced bread so they can sell them to you and laugh all the way to the bank.

The Proof

You can verify that my statements are true by viewing the FREE federal forms I provide on the Colorado Bankruptcy Training website at:


Every one of these forms are fillable; which means that you can open up the document, click on a line and begin typing in the information on your computer.  This is often faster compared to printing out the document and filling it out by hand.  One tip though:  Only Adobe provides software that makes forms fillable; therefore, you must download the free Adobe Reader in order for the fill-in-the-blank capability to properly work.

How To Use the PDF Version Instead of the Paid Version

Prepare the petition in your bankruptcy software as you normally would. For any forms that are blocked out (such as the Chapter 13 Plan) simply download them from the website link above.  Allow the software to still compile the data and figures for the form; but instead of spending $150 or $200 to purchase an unlock code, simply transfer those figures onto the PDF document and you are good to go.  The PDF will need to be filed separately with the court, but who cares?  For most people, spending 2 extra minutes to save a great deal of money is worth it.

Of course, if you want the convenience of purchasing an unlock code for your bankruptcy software; there is nothing wrong with that.  The part that bothers me is that software companies like Best Case are forcing law firms to believe they cannot even do a Chapter 13 outside of their district unless they purchase a $150 or $200 module of the Chapter 13 Plan.  This is a lie and I would certainly question the integrity of a company that implemented these types of sales tactics just to take money from people.

Want to Know More?

Article:  Free Chapter 13 Plans and Local Forms
(explains more about the scam in more detail):

Article: Which Bankruptcy Software Should You Purchase?

Pass This Information Along

If the paralegal had not contacted me about this topic today, the law firm could have ended up paying out thousands of dollars for forms they can obtain free from their local bankruptcy court website.

Please pass along this information to any legal or paralegal related groups that you belong to.  Knowledge is power and knowledge in this area will prevent scams like this continuing.  Thanks for your help and support.

Comments are closed.